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Headword: Kubelê
Adler number: kappa,2586
Translated headword: Kubele, Kybele, Cybele; Kubebe, The Great Mother of the Gods and Men
Vetting Status: high
[Another name for] Rhea. [The name comes] from the Kybela mountains; for she [is] a mountain goddess; that is also why she rides in a chariot drawn by a team of lions. But he used the phrase 'o mother of Cleocritus'[1] by innuendo, wishing to slander him as ostrich-footed[2], that is big-footed. [Cleocritus] was treated in comedy as a kinaidos[3] and a foreigner and low-born and the son of Cybele; because effeminates are present in the mysteries of Rhea. He was also birdlike in appearance. Therefore the proverb was said in reference to kinaidoi.
Greek Original:
Kubelê: hê Rhea. para ta Kubela orê: oreia gar hê theos: dio kai epocheitai leontôn zeugei. to de mêter Kleokritou par' huponoian eipe, boulomenos auton diabalein hôs strouthopoda, toutesti megalopoun. ekômôideito de hôs kinaidos kai xenos kai dusgenês kai Kubelês huios: epei en tois mustêriois tês Rheas malakoi pareisin. ên de kai tên opsin ornithôdês. eirêtai oun epi tôn kinaidôn hê paroimia.
This entry closely parallels a scholion on Aristophanes, Birds 877 ("Lady Cybele, ostrich, mother of Cleocritus"). Symmachus and Didymus are cited there as sources of some of the phrases used.
The orgiastic rituals of Cybele (see kappa 2594; cf. gamma 23, kappa 2588) and her son Attis, centered around a decorated pine-tree (and thus the probable source of modern 'Christmas trees'), originated with the Phrygians, or perhaps the people they subjugated in west-central Anatolia, and were imported to Rome during the Punic Wars (and widely extended in the Roman Empire by the Emperor Claudius, a devotee). Mother Cybele was more often known in Rome as Magna Deum Mater (Great Mother of the Gods) and hence today as 'The Great Mother'. Catullus' Attis (poem 63) describes with a certain horror the practice of castration at these rituals, designed to bring the future priests of the goddess closer to her sex. Castrated priests of Cybele were called Galloi (gamma 23) and were a paradigm throughout the ancient world for 'effeminate' men (in its literal sense, 'transformed into feminine'). In iconography she is constantly portrayed with her team of lions. Her rites are often approximated to those of Sabazius (also Phrygian) or Dionysus.
[1] On Cleocritus see also kappa 1721, kappa 2587. For the description of such a man as birdlike we might compare Proust's description of Jupien at the beginning of Sodom and Gomorrah (Cities of the Plain) I. Hesychius glosses the word strouqo/s 'lecher'.
[2] This bird was originally a sparrow. We cannot be quite certain how or why it was applied to the ostrich when that bird was discovered by the Greeks, but it certainly has that sense in Aristophanes and here.
[3] On this term and its cognates see under kappa 1634.
M.J. Vermaseren, Cybele and Attis, the myth and the cult, 1977 (translated from the Dutch)
W.M. Ramsay, "Phrygians" in Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol.9, 900-911 (dated, but still the most useful in English)
Keywords: biography; comedy; daily life; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; gender and sexuality; mythology; proverbs; religion; rhetoric; zoology
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 16 December 2001@14:09:16.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added keywords; cosmetics) on 11 September 2002@09:34:22.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaking) on 19 March 2013@08:22:55.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 22 January 2015@01:07:47.
Catharine Roth (more coding) on 22 February 2020@00:53:52.
David Whitehead (another x-ref; tweaks to tr and notes) on 11 May 2020@08:43:05.


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